Teams that played in an overtime game haven't done well the week after. Their record is 4-15, not counting games against opponents who were also coming back from OT. Fatigue, mental strain, typical letdown—any of them could be contributing factors, or maybe all of them. Two teams have come back from overtime games to play an opponent coming off its bye—the Browns, who against the Steelers went into overtime again before losing, and the Titans, who got clobbered 52-25 by the Raiders.
These are the statistical handicaps Oakland faces when it plays in Denver on Monday night. What's worse is the nature of the Raiders' overtime loss to San Francisco on Sunday. Their defense was worn down after the 49ers ran off the last 30 plays in the game. How long the effects of the fatigue will last, especially against the rested Broncos, who are coming off their bye week, remains to be seen.
Here are some more bad statistics for Oakland fans. In his seven years as Denver coach, Mike Shanahan has made the game against the Raiders, who fired him once upon a time, a personal crusade. He has never lost at home in seven meetings.
This, of course, will all be well-documented during the week, and the Broncos will read it. If they take it too seriously, they could lose some of their edge. I'm groping here. I'm trying to find a way the Raiders can squeeze out a victory. But I don't think they're going to stop Denver, not with the way their secondary looked against San Francisco. Cornerback Charles Woodson, coming back from a broken right shoulder, struggled. The Broncos will put him to the test, and they'll put up points. Defensively, I think Denver will use a minimum of nickel and dime coverages against Oakland's three-wide package. The Broncos' linebackers are quick enough to lock onto the short crossing routes, and they're better equipped than defensive backs to inflict punishment. Denver's the pick.
Here's another game that will test the bye-versus-OT-survivor theory. The Niners play host to rested Kansas City, and they'd better watch out. The Chiefs can score, and their defense is better than it was a month ago. Do I sense an upset here? Well, almost, but I can close my eyes and see Terrell Owens waltzing through the K.C. secondary for about 150 yards. The Niners are the pick, just barely.
The rampaging Jets face Miami at the Meadowlands with a 30-3 score to settle. New York is a different team than it was on Sept. 22—different quarterback, different outlook, different result. Yes, I'll go with the Jets. In Seattle the fans were hollering for Jeff George on Sunday: " George! George! George!" Nothing unusual there. They always holler for guys with one-syllable names. It's too tough to pull off a "Hasselbeck! Hasselbeck!" chant. That won't do the Seahawks any good in the desert on Sunday. Seattle loses to Arizona and its one-syllable QB, Snake!
The Giants get their second round of zippy play-calling from coach Jim Fassel and beat the Vikings. The Steelers, noting the way the Ravens spied Michael Vick, set up their own spy network and top Atlanta. The Eagles keep it going against the Colts, the most bedraggled-looking 4-4 team in the league, and the Saints will have problems with the Carolina defense but not with the quarterback; I'll give New Orleans the win.
The Rams top the Chargers, still in shock after the Jets hung one on them. We'll ride along with the Redskins, a hot team after two straight victories, against the Jaguars, and after falling off New England's bandwagon last week, we'll climb back on and give the Patriots the win over struggling Chicago.